McCann: why I'm standing for Westminster

Eammon McCann hadn’t been expecting to run for Westminster, but he handed his nomination papers in at the Electoral Office at eleven this morning. He explains below why he and his party, the Socialist Environmental Alliance, changed their minds last Sunday.

From Eammon McCann:

The SEA had intended to contest the local elections only. We don’t really have the resources to fight a Westminster constituency, too.

But we decided to give it a go anyway after a discussion last Saturday afternoon of the Westminster campaign so far. The stale and depressing nature of exchanges between the mainstream parties emphasised the need for a radically different agenda to be put forward.

The contest so far hasn’t been so much an election as two parallel polls, one for Catholics, one for Protestants. We have entered the fray to offer a very different perspective.

Sinn Fein is asking voters to deliver the killer blow to the SDLP and confirm themselves as the sole authentic voice of Nationalism in the North. The SDLP’s main thrust is to counter this argument. The basic difference between the parties concerns which of them will give the more forceful representation to one community vis-à-vis the other.

The DUP and Ulster Unionists are mirror images of Sinn Fein and the SDLP. They are contesting Foyle, not in the hope of winning a seat but so as to maximise their party’s overall total across the North. Again, the main point is, which of them will have more right on the day after the poll to speak for the separate interests of Protestant/Unionist community.

This pattern of politics leaves people who don’t fit into either category completely out of the picture. It also means that issues which don’t fit into the Orange-Green template are given a low priority, if they get a look-in at all. On both sides, those at the bottom of the pile are left behind.

This pattern also makes it certain that as soon as the election is over we’ll be back to stalemate. A vote for any of the main parties is a vote for more of the same—for stalemate and stagnation.

Meanwhile, poverty, unemployment, cuts in health and education, the destruction of the environment, the sell-off of the public services, economic development at the dictat of big business, lack of access to family planning, the repression of the young, the marginalisation of trade unions etc., etc. will continue, effectively ignored.

Water charges make the point.

All the mainstream parties say they oppose water charges and privatisation. But all are equally opposed to a campaign of non-payment—the only strategy with a realistic hope of defeating New Labour’s plan.

The main reason for the reluctance to back non-payment is that it’s impossible to fit a campaign of this sort into Orange-Green politics. You can’t mobilise against the charges in one community only. Water charges and privatisation will be defeated through a campaign which transcends the divide or they won’t be defeated at all.his involves people joining together in their common interests across the divide in

Building a serious non-payment campaign would do more to break down sectarian divisions than any other single idea or development on the horizon. But parties which are based on representing one community and not the other would be directly threatened by a campaign which mobilised people on a basis which has nothing whatever to do with what community they come from.

This is why they all claim to be against water charges but are unanimous in opposing a non-payment campaign.

The SEA is in favour of non-payment for the exact reasons the mainstream parties are against it. This is the difference in a nutshell.

  • beano @ Everything Ulster

    “This pattern also makes it certain that as soon as the election is over we’ll be back to stalemate. A vote for any of the main parties is a vote for more of the same—for stalemate and stagnation.”

    That’s about the extent of my agreement with McCann, which is why I wish the Conservatives were standing in South Belfast 🙁

  • Henry94

    He explains below why he and his party, the Socialist Environmental Alliance, changed their minds last Sunday.

    His party is the Socialist Workers Party. The SEA is a mere front organisation.

  • Davros

    website with links to manifestos

    Good man Eamonn.

  • La Dolorosa

    Henry

    “His party is the Socialist Workers Party. The SEA is a mere front organisation.” ..

    The same could be said for a number of other political parties in NI……

  • Henry94

    La Dolorosa

    Leave the Orange Order out of this.

  • beano @ Everything Ulster

    Awful website I couldn’t bare to look around for any more than a couple of minutes.

  • la Dolorosa

    Henry – surely having the word ‘Alliance’ in the title makes it pretty clear that it’s a mix of different poltical groupings.

  • Shantallow DUP

    I have spent the last two weeks out campaigning for Mildred Garfield and the public response has been overwhelming! There has even been a huge swing in support since the assembly election. Mildred is on the ground working tirelessly for the people. Everyone can see that and that’s why his campaign is gaining such momentum. I predict 4 DUP councillors in Waterside.
    Role on May 5th!!!

  • Creggan SDLP

    I hear that Eamonn Mc Cann got a bucket of pig manure thrown over him last night when he was canvassing in the Fountain Area!!how funny well done to the fountain UDA for that one….

  • sean west

    shantallow dup.You have got to be joking.

  • DerryTerry

    Folks, do we really need a big explanation for why Candidate McCann has put himself forward. There’s an election, stupid, its what he does.

  • sean west

    Is that true about the pig manure or just gossip?.

  • Scarlet

    Henry
    “His party is the Socialist Workers Party. The SEA is a mere front organisation.” ..

    Spot on why do the Socialist Workers Party always dress themselves up as anything but the SWP? What’s wrong with being Socialist and standing up for workers rights.

    Dolorosa
    The same could be said for a number of other political parties in NI……

    Which ones do it as consistently as SWP. Perhaps you are referring to Unionist light.?

  • ExPat

    Fair play Eamo, we should be worrying about getting our little country on the road. whats the point in voting in another pointless tribal stalemate. time to get some work done. we’re a laughing stock.

  • DerryTerry

    Foyle Update:

    Candidate McCann is atanding because:

    A) He’s a politician
    B) Its an election
    C) The SWP/SEA don’t have anyone else.

  • Levitas

    I suppose Eamonn will be getting his usual support from the maverick German couple (can’t remember their names at the moment) who form the nucleus of the Communist Party of Ireland grouplet around the Foyle-who incidentally in so doing blatantly breach the Communist Party of Ireland’s policy on suporting the GFA and because the CPI is in effect disfunctional these days they ignore the “party line” with impunity-an eclectic bunch the Socialist Environmental Alliance indeed.